Children of Men appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Virtually no concerns cropped up in this fine presentation.
Sharpness always looked very good. Even in wide shots, the movie remained crisp and concise. Jagged edges and shimmering failed to create problems, and edge enhancement appeared absent. In addition, the print lacked any noticeable defects.
As one might expect of such a grim story, the palette stayed very desaturated. Much of the flick went with a fairly blue tint, as only occasionally did slightly warmer hues materialize. I thought the DVD replicated the color design well. Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows demonstrated solid clarity and delineation. I felt quite impressed by this image.
Similar thoughts greeted the surprisingly effective Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The movie presented a very involving soundfield that worked for moments both quiet and loud. The film created a good general sense of place and used a lot of directional dialogue to further spread out the events. The mix of action sequences provided the best material, though, as they opened up the spectrum to throw us into the events. The package melded together the elements in a smooth, concise manner.
No issues with audio quality emerged. Speech was consistently crisp and distinctive, and music showed very good range. The occasional examples of aggressive future rock pounded well, but quieter tracks also seemed rich and full. Effects demonstrated great clarity and definition, while bass response was always deep and tight. This was a high quality mix that earned an “A-“.
As we move to the extras, we open with comments by philosopher/cultural critic Slavoj Zizek. Don’t expect a full commentary; instead, we hear from Zizek as he chats over five minutes, 44 seconds of footage. He discusses the movie’s contrasts between foreground and background elements as well as some other introspective notes. He also mentions some changes between the novel and the movie. Zizek gives us some interesting perspectives and details, though I must admit his heavy lisp becomes a distraction.
Three deleted scenes run a total of two minutes, 22 seconds. Don’t expect anything of consequence. The first just shows Theo in the grimy streets, while the second demonstrates his need of money as his landlord threatens him with eviction. For the final scene, we simply get an alternate look at Theo with his brother amidst rescued art. The clips are all disposable.
Five featurettes follow. The Possibility of Hope fills 27 minutes, 15 seconds with notes from Zizek, anti-globalization activist Naomi Klein, philosopher/historian Tzvetan Todorov, human geographer Fabrizio Eva, sociologist of human migrations Saskia Sassen, philosopher/economist John Gray, and scientist/futurologist James Lovelock. Essentially they discuss the crappy state of the world today and throw out a few vague positive thoughts about the future. Not exactly a bucket of fun, the program offers some interesting concepts but doesn’t do much more than bludgeon us with doom and gloom.
In the seven-minute and 35-second Under Attack, we hear from writer/director Alfonso Cuaron, producer Eric Newman, “Doggicam” camera operator Frank Buono, stunt coordinator Steve Dent, and actors Clive Owen, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Julianne Moore. “Attack” looks at the film’s limited number of cuts and the techniques to create the long takes. We get a nice look at the technical elements as well as stylistic choices in this solid little piece.
Next we move to Theo and Julian. During the four-minute and 40-second piece, we find comments from Cuaron, Owen, Moore, and producer Marc Abraham. We get info about cast and characters. Some decent insights emerge, but mostly this feels like a simple recap without much depth.
Futuristic Design lasts eight minutes, 38 seconds and features Cuaron, Abraham, producer Hilary Shot, set designer Jennifer Williams, production designer Jim Clay, and costume designer Jany Temime. They cover the movie’s set design, costumes, and other visual elements. We find a good overview of the different elements that went into the creation of the film’s dark setting.
Finally, we get the three-minute and six-second Visual Effects: Creating the Baby. It presents the various stages through which the flick went to form the baby. We get no narration but see the different pieces as they come together in the scene. It turns into an effective visual presentation.
The DVD opens with some ads. We get promos for Smokin’ Aces, The Good Shepherd, Hot Fuzz, Alpha Dog, The Hitcher and HD-DVD.
If you want to take Children of Men as a political statement, it works that way. If you just want to see a tight little action thriller, it fares well in that direction too. The movie serves its various audiences to create a compelling piece of work. The DVD offers very strong picture and audio but comes without many substantial extras. At the very least, this intriguing flick deserves a rental.